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Full text of "Rapid Population Growth Consequences And Policy Implications"

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statistical or group terms, but individual or family psychological bases for fertility have not been amenable to clear definition or successful analysis. Theories of family decision-making about desired numbers and spacing of births have all been deductive rather than empirically operational; for example, they are often developed by analogy with the pure economic theory of consumer durables.
At macro scales of observation, average fertility differences between highly developed and distinctly underdeveloped areas regarded as groups—for example, between nations with per capita incomes of over $1,000 and those under $400-are among the clearest and most stable comparative phenomena known to social scientists, but their finer statistical or dynamic structure has largely eluded analytic approaches. For example, correlations between fertility (birth rates or gross reproduction rates) and standard social and economic indicators have been close to zero as recently as 1960, looking at the less developed countries as a whole. However, a number of social and non-income economic indicators (such as communication and education) that have been examined recently suggest that significant inverse correlations may hold between these indicators and fertility within individual less developed regions such as Latin America, east Asia, and possibly others.
To summarize, rapid population growth has neither prevented overall economic growth nor brought about widespread famine. However, rapid population growth has resulted in a slow growth of per capita incomes, per capita food production, and standards of living while national economic growth rates are rapidly rising. Moreover, with current population growth rates, the present optimism about food production need not apply far into the future. An immediate and continuous decline in fertility would soon increase the welfare of individuals and households in all economies, and after 15 to 20 years could result in very substantial—and cumulatively rising—overall economic gains, particularly in the developing countries.
POLITICAL AND SOCIAL CONSEQUENCES*
High population density and rapid growth are blamed for many disturbing features of a changing world: urban violence, political instability, poverty, pollution, aggressive behavior, revolution, and hypernationalism. Nevertheless, empirical attempts to relate population growth to these political pathologies have been uniformly unsuccessful. There is no evidence that population growth decreases the level of political stability or increases the probability of conflict and violence and aggressive behavior.
*See Myron Weiner, "Political Demography: an Inquiry into the Political Consequences of Population Change," in Vol. II of this study.omic Change and Fertility